Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2005 19:54:08 -0600
Subject: DPS Mailing #05-03: Alert: Outer Planets Research Cancelled
ALERT: Outer Planets Research Cancelled; Concern for all R&A Programs
On January 24, 2006, Curt Niebur, Discipline Scientist for the
Outer Planets Research Program sent a message to PIs in that
program rescinding funding letters that had been received in
early December, because those funds had been redirected by
senior management. This action is to my knowledge without
precedent in the NASA Research and Analysis programs and is
having substantial and significant negative impact on many
The DPS is collecting impact statements from the affected PIs.
These are being posted at
NASA planetary R&A programs fund most of the planetary community,
and they are the principal sources of funding in training the
next generation of planetary scientists. These programs provide
us with the knowledge we need to form the questions we try to
answer with the much more expensive mission programs and
provide the scientific framework within which we interpret
the data from those missions. Raiding these small, but
valuable programs to pay for other agency needs such as
shuttle return to flight threatens both the present and the
future of solar system exploration by the United States.
We are gravely concerned that the zeroing of OPRP is just
the beginning of future cutbacks and zeroing of other R&A
programs. We are deeply worried it represents a fundamental
lack of appreciation by senior NASA management of the critical
role these programs play in solar system exploration.
We call on you to contact your congressional representatives.
Call their Washington offices and speak to the staffers that
handle science issues. They need to know that small basic
science Research and Analysis programs are under attack at
NASA in order to staunch funding problems with far larger
and completely disconnected programs such as shuttle return
to flight. They need to know that these research programs
form the foundation on which this country's solar system
exploration program is built. Loss of funding in these
programs will result directly in the loss of planetary
scientists, particularly younger scientists, and it will
take a generation to rebuild, if we ever do.
You can find out your Senator by going to http://www.senate.gov/,
and your Representative by going to http://www.house.gov/,
or go to http://www.aas.org/~dps for links, information,
and other advice in dealing with Congress. Calling or faxing
is best; e-mail is not given as much attention.
I cannot stress how important it is at this point to simply
be heard, even if it only a phone call or short fax. There
is an opportunity to get NASA to reconsider this decision,
but only if everyone acts now.
William B. McKinnon
Linda French Emmons, DPS Secretary
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